Conservatives, we must stay focused

Distraction (per Wikipedia) – “the process of diverting the attention of an individual or group from a desired area of focus … caused by: the lack of ability to pay attention; lack of interest in the object of attention; or the great intensity, novelty or attractiveness of something other than the object of attention.” [emphasis added]

Aside from our sinful nature, distraction may be the single greatest challenge faced by mankind. Parents, teachers, ministers, and law enforcement officers deal with its consequences continually. Distraction can also be a hugely effective military and self-defense tool.

President Trump is a master of the art, as Erick pointed out earlier this year. While the media has been focused on his tweets, ongoing struggles with facts, and frequent egotistic posturing within his administration, Trump has presided over an expansion of conservative influence in the judicial system and large-scale cutbacks in federal regulations.

The result has been an incessant and terribly polarizing back-and-forth between liberals and Trump supporters on social media. While Facebook was rife with stories of questionable origin during the 2016 election season, 2017 has seen an explosion of the same kind of tripe on Twitter.

That die-hard Trump apologists have willingly jumped into the swirling cesspool is not surprising; that many true conservatives have done so is alarming. In doing so, we lose sight of the true goal of advancing conservatism, and risk the loss of hard-fought gains that have already been won.

Case in point: the recent near-loss of the adoption tax credit. While many were distracted by the endless and useless social media arguments over gun control and Russian collusion, Congressional Republicans nearly threw away what should be a cornerstone conservative position. Thankfully Resurgent regulars led the way in calling and emailing Washington to save the credit – and in the process helped to save lives.

Conservatism is not about one man or even one administration. It’s not about a team. And it’s certainly not about winning at all costs or defending indefensible behavior just because “one of ours” is involved.

It’s about ideas and ideals. It’s about personal freedom. Limited government. Private property.

Most importantly, it’s about life.

This week I was reminded how important it is to remain focused while stopping by our local crisis pregnancy center to drop off something. The new center director was so glad to see me that I felt like Santa Claus. Not because I brought anything of great material value, but just because a fresh face had walked in the door.

To say that it was a bit of a wake-up call is putting it mildly.

The modern rush to fulfill personal obligations leaves us with little free time. Spending some of that time trying to argue for conservatism on social media is fine, but when that becomes our focus it’s easy to forget that there are people out there in the trenches literally fighting for life – and they could use our help.

Our local center is Hope Resource Center. Feel free to mention yours in the comments section. If you don’t know of one, just type in your Zip Code and perhaps someone can identify one in your area.

Mississippi school has its head … in the sand when it comes to race relations

Calling all remaining logical, level-headed, backbone-possessing public-school administrators (yes, both of you): One of you needs to get to Biloxi ASAP.

In a move challenging even Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson in ridiculousness, the Biloxi (MS) School District recently decided to remove Harper Lee’s classic Pulitzer-winning novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” from its 8th grade reading curriculum. The move was apparently made due to parental concerns about the book’s use of the “N” word and the fact that the word made some students uncomfortable.

No word on whether those parents had also demanded that the music of Jay-Z and Kanye West be banned from students’ phone playlists.

“There are many resources and materials that are available to teach state academic standards to our students. These resources may change periodically. We always strive to do what is best for our students and staff to continue to perform at the highest level”, Superintendent Arthur McMillan stated.

But left out of that McMillan quote – according to a letter to the editor of Gulfport’s Sun-Herald – is the fact that the book wasn’t removed during summer pre-planning (when such decisions are typically made), but rather “mid-lesson plan”. In other words, classes had already begun studying the book, then abandoned it before finishing.

School board VP Kenny Holloway stated “There were complaints about it. There is some language in the book that makes people feel uncomfortable”.

If that’s the case, then McMillan, Holloway, and the entire Biloxi school board owe a huge apology to Christian students and parents who feel uncomfortable with lessons about evolution and sexual identity.

One must wonder – did anyone on the Biloxi school board ask what message this would send to students? A few that come to mind:

  • You should never have to learn something that makes you uncomfortable
  • Your feelings are more important than your education
  • It’s okay to give up on something midstream
  • If you complain enough, you’ll get what you want

As noted in the Sun-Herald story, “The current themes for 2nd term language arts classes in Biloxi this year are the Golden Rule and taking a stand.”

There is no better story than “To Kill A Mockingbird” for discussion of both those themes.

Refusing to engage in uncomfortable discussions is not going to improve our nation’s problem with race relations. The ugliness of the past cannot be swept under the rug – it must be confronted and accepted as historical fact, or progress can never be made.

The Biloxi school board can keep their heads in the sand – or wherever else – if they wish, but they are doing their students and their community a tremendous disservice.

Hopefully voters will remember it come election day.

 

BREAKING: Charlottesville schools on lockdown after FBI reveals shooting threat

WTVR news (local CBS affiliate) is reporting that Charlottesville (VA) city schools are currently under lockdown status over a threatened shooting.

From the WTVR story:

“Local officials were notified by the FBI about information from a post made on a social media message board which expressed discontent with recent events in Charlottesville, according to the Charlottesville Police Department … At this time, there is no information on the identity of the poster, and police officers have been posted at all city schools and many of the area’s private schools.”

 

BREAKING: Texas Tech officer shot and killed, apparently by student

Texas NBC affiliate KCBD is reporting that a Texas Tech campus police officer has been shot and killed in the line of duty.

The assailant was apparently a TTU student whom officers had brought to the police headquarters for a “welfare check”. The report states that the student – identified by police as Hollis A. Daniels – pulled a gun and shot the officer, then fled the scene.

From the KCBD report:
“Early reports say the shooting suspect is 6 feet tall, 140 pounds, with red hair and blue eyes, wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans. Police say he is driving a silver 2001 BMW SUV. “

As of 10pm Eastern time, the shooter was still at large and the Texas Tech campus was on lockdown and being searched by a SWAT team.

UPDATE: Texas Tech officials now say that the suspect is now in custody, and the campus lockdown has been lifted.

Cruz: VA Must Expand Options For Veterans

Texas Senator Ted Cruz partnered last week with Concerned Veterans for America executive director Mark Lucas to pen the editorial “Congress must expand health care choices for veterans” for the Houston Chronicle.

The editorial begins with the story of a woman named Linda, whose husband died as a result of Veterans Administration failure. It goes on to suggest two ideas that Cruz and Lucas say “can turn the tide at the VA and provide positive impact: increasing accountability and giving our veterans more choice and control over the health care benefits they’ve earned.”

The recently-passed VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act made strong inroads toward reaching the first of those goals.

“Unlike previous legislative ‘fixes’ designed to improve the VA, this law has real teeth. It gives VA Secretary David Shulkin greater authority to get rid of unsatisfactory employees and reduces the time it takes to do so. Even better, these former employees will no longer be paid with taxpayer dollars as they undergo the termination process. The measure also allows the secretary to recoup bonuses awarded to employees who engaged in misconduct, affording greater protections to whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing.”

Cruz and Lucas also point out that the Veteran Choice Program has left many vets hamstrung in their efforts to receive care, particularly in its requirement that veterans seek help exclusively at a VA facility if there is one within 40 miles of their home that can see them within 30 days.

The pair further propose that information technology used by the VA be modernized in order to help the organization more effectively provide care.

“Sen. Cruz has sponsored a bill to address this issue by requiring the appointment of a chief information officer at the VHA, equipped to implement and manage a state-of-the-art IT system fully integrated with VHA clinics and medical centers. This straightforward, simple solution will improve health care outcomes and help remedy the long wait times that have compromised the health and safety of our veterans.”

But perhaps the biggest change proposed by Cruz and Lucas is to implement a new administrative process for the VA provider system, in an effort to expand veterans’ choices about “when and where to seek care”.

“As Concerned Veterans for America outlined in its bipartisan report, Fixing Veterans Health Care Taskforce, a government-chartered nonprofit or accountable care organization should administer the VA’s current provider system and allow for the creation of a veterans insurance program to offer veterans the ability to access care in the private sector with their VA benefits in a way similar to how most federal employees get coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program.”

As with Cruz’ previous proposals concerning ACA replacement, the intent of the proposed changes is to put patients in charge of their own healthcare rather than forcing them to rely on government-based care providers.

“Veterans should be able to access state-of-the-art care at any time, close to home with the benefits they’ve earned. And it is our hope that by bringing accountability to the VA and empowering veterans with health care choice, no veteran will ever have to go through what Linda and her husband experienced.”

Those who have willingly chosen to put their lives on the line – and their families – deserve nothing less.

Cruz says Congressional leadership void could lead to 2018 bloodbath

Speaking to the NE Tarrant Tea Party last Saturday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz warned that a lack of leadership in the 115th Congress could lead to a nightmarish scenario for Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections.

“If we go through 2017 and 2018 … and the only two legislative accomplishments of a Republican Congress are a massive bailout for insurance companies and a massive amnesty package, we’re headed for a bloodbath in 2018.”

Later, in response to an audience member shouting “Mitch McConnell needs to go today!”, Cruz avoided going full-on attack, but made clear that he, too, is disappointed in the Senate leadership.

“Leadership needs to lead. We’re not getting an awful lot of that … If we don’t see leadership now, in 2019 we’re not going to be electing a majority leader – we’re going to be electing a minority leader … It’s a very simple thing. Let’s do what we said. Let’s get it done. Failure is not an option”

Cruz spent the first 20 minutes of his speech addressing continuing hurricane cleanup efforts in the Lone Star State, then transitioned with “Shifting from one disaster to another, let’s talk about Congress.”

Agreeing with frequent audience shouts echoing disappointment in Congress, Cruz also decried the lack of legislative accomplishments since January, and shared his own frustrations over great effort expended by conservatives behind the scenes with very little to show.

In an extended review of the Obamacare repeal effort, Cruz stated that he was doing all that he could to forge an agreement that could address some of the concerns of the holdouts from previous efforts.

“I can’t promise you we will get there; I can promise that every ounce of strength in my body will be spent trying to bring 50 votes together to get the job done.”

The entire speech and Q&A session – recorded by an audience member – may be viewed here.

 

Cruz lays out priorities for Congress

Ted Cruz is a planner. He’s one of those people who like to set priorities and then meet them. So it should come as no surprise that he’s developed a list of priorities for the 115th Congress to get back on track.

Or perhaps we should leave out the word “back”. Going back implies you’ve been there before – and a strong case could be made that this Congress has not.

Speaking to a gathering of the NE Tarrant Tea Party last weekend, Cruz issued a reminder to his Republican colleagues that voters have given them a mandate to enact positive, conservative change.

“The voters have given us a Republican President, Republican heads of every agency, and Republican houses of Congress … It’s a very simple thing; let’s do what we said.”

He went on to list four points that he believes Congress should act upon: Obamacare repeal, tax reform, regulatory reform, and the appointment of “strong Constitutionalists to the Supreme Court and all the federal courts … if we could deliver on those four, this could be the most productive Congress in decades”.

On tax reform, Cruz stated that “Ideally what I’d like to see is a simple flat tax where we abolish the IRS”. The notion received high praise from those in attendance.

Speaking of praise, the Texas Senator offered examples of praise for the Trump administration regarding two of the four priorities mentioned in his speech.

On regulatory reform: “That may be the single thing I’m most optimistic about in this administration … It is a powerful, powerful thing if we get government out of the way and let each of you the small businesses in this country go and create jobs.”

On judicial nominees: “Neal Gorsuch is the single best thing President Trump has done, and confirming him is the best thing the Congress has done.”

The question is whether voters will remain engaged enough to hold their elected officials’ feet to the fire, a point Cruz made clear.

“Its the grassroots that produced this electoral victory … We need those elected officials – every one of them, myself included – to be held accountable to the people to do what we said we would do.”

The entire speech and Q&A may be viewed at the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksBQT_6r7F8

 

Trump’s latest judicial picks have Cruz and Cornyn smiling

Conservatives may differ in their overall assessment of President Trump, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone on the right to complain about the judicial nominees put forward by the Chief Executive thus far. As our own Dan Spencer noted back in July, “Trump is on course to reshape the judiciary in a notably conservative direction, even if he doesn’t get any more appointments to the Supreme Court.”

Among the latest entries are two well-known Texans with strong conservative credentials and close ties to some of the Lone Star State’s most popular federal figures, both selected to fill vacancies on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett and Dallas appellate lawyer James Ho emerged from a field of a half-dozen contenders for two open Texas seats on the court, which covers Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.” – Houston Chronicle

The selection of Willett and Ho met with praise from both Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. The Texas Senators – both of whom serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee – had recommended the nominations.

“I am thrilled to support the nomination of Don Willett and Jim Ho to the Fifth Circuit,” Cruz said in a press release. “I have been close friends with them both for decades, and I know them personally to be brilliant lawyers and principled conservatives.”

Also from the Chronicle story:

“Both of these gentlemen will do an outstanding job once confirmed,” Cornyn said. Ho worked as Cornyn’s chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Cornyn said both are viewed as conservatives who will strictly interpret the law. “I’m confident that both Judge Willett and Jim Ho will be that kind of judge,” he said.

Two other nominees – both from Louisiana – were nominated for spots on the 5th Circuit Court. Kyle Duncan was lead counsel in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, and Kurt Englehardt is the current Chief Justice for Louisiana’s Eastern District Court.

In addition to the four 5th Circuit nominees, The White House announced nominees for five other federal court seats on Thursday.

Cruz’ statement went on to note the importance of selecting conservative judges for federal court positions, particularly in the wake of Obama administration nominees.

“Our country learned under President Obama just how fast liberty recedes when judges decide cases based on personal preference rather than the law as written. I am encouraged that, with these individuals on the Fifth Circuit, the tide will steadily turn back towards the rule of law. I commend the President for these nominations and hope that my colleagues in the Senate quickly confirm all of them.”